High-speed chase reviewed

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The Craig Police Department has performed an internal review about how a high-speed chase that ended in Baggs, Wyo., was handled. The Dec. 3 chase lead to the arrest of a man who had stolen a car from Craig's Pizza Hut parking lot.

Police Chief Walt Vanatta ordered the review, Lt. John Forgay said.

Vanatta was not available for comment Friday.

Police said that they could not provide a copy of the review to the Daily Press on Friday because it involved personnel matters. However, Forgay said an investigation was standard in such cases as a means for the department to assess its policy on vehicle chases -- a function that Craig officers rarely do.

"There's nothing in the review that says anybody did anything wrong," Forgay said.

A total of seven law enforcement vehicles pursued or surrounded the car Luis Colon, 28, was driving during at least a portion of the 40-mile chase to Baggs. Craig Police officer Dale Secules spotted the car heading north on Yampa Avenue after the call came in that a 2003 Chevy Cavalier that had been left running in the Pizza Hut parking lot had been stolen.

Secules and Craig Police Sgt. Bill Leonard, in separate cars, chased the Cavalier 20 miles out of town until a deputy from the Moffat County Sheriff's Office and a Colorado State Patrol trooper joined the pursuit. At that time, the Craig officers pulled back and were available as assistance, Leonard said.

In total, four Craig police cars, two sheriff vehicles and one vehicle from the state patrol chased the Cavalier. One of the Craig police vehicles was unmarked but equipped with lights and sirens.

Craig Police Capt. Jerry DeLong said the department's policy is for officers to pursue vehicles until another overriding law enforcement agency shows up, or if the chase becomes an issue of public safety. Speeds in the chase along Colorado Highway 13 reached 80 mph. The State Patrol was the governing law enforcement agency in that incident, DeLong said. The chase ended in Baggs when a car driven by Colorado State Patrol Trooper Marty Smith tapped the Cavalier, causing it to spin and become lodged in a snowbank.

Colon was sentenced for one felony charge of vehicular eluding in the case on Friday in Moffat County District Court. He received a one-year sentence in the Colorado Department of Corrections, minus 84 days he has been held in the custody of the Moffat County Jail. Colon faces two years of mandatory parole after jail time.

Defense Attorney Sheryl Uhlmann urged Judge Paul McLimans to go easy on Colon who had been traveling through the area at the time of the incident, because Colon had expressed a desire to "get back on his feet."

Both sides tried to get Colon into CAPS -- Correctional Alternative Placement Services -- as part of the plea agreement, but the agency denied the request.

"He wanted to find employment here and make amends," Uhlmann said. "He was hopeful that he could be admitted to CAPS, and we were disappointed that he wasn't accepted."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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